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Denys d'Halicarnasse, Les Antiquités romaines, livre VI

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Texte grec :

[6,62] Ἀλλὰ πλεῖστον δὴ ἐν τούτῳ Μενήνιος ἐψεύσθη τῆς δόξης, ἀνὴρ σώφρων, {ὃς} ἐκ τῶν ἑαυτοῦ τρόπων τεκμαίρεται χρηστὰ ὑπὲρ ἑτέρων. ἐγκείσεται γὰρ ὑμῖν πέρα τοῦ δέοντος βαρὺς ὑπό τ´ αὐθαδείας, ἣ φιλεῖ περὶ τὸ κρατοῦν ἀεὶ γίνεσθαι, καὶ ἀφροσύνης, ἧς πλεῖστον ὄχλος μετέχει μέρος· κἂν εἰ μὴ ἐν ἀρχαῖς, χρόνῳ γοῦν ὕστερον καὶ ἐφ´ ἑκάστῳ χρήματι, ὧν ἂν δεηθεὶς μὴ τύχῃ, τὰ ὅπλα λαβὼν τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον ὑμῖν σοβαρῶς ἐπιθήσεται. ὥστ´ εἰ τὰ πρῶτα συγχωρήσετε συμφέροντα εἶναι νομίσαντες, ἕτερόν τι χεῖρον εὐθὺς ἐπιταχθήσεσθε καὶ αὖθις ἄλλο τούτου χαλεπώτερον, ὡς φόβῳ καὶ τὰ πρῶτα ὑπακούσαντες, ἕως ἐκβάλωσιν ὑμᾶς τελευτῶντες τῆς πόλεως, ὡς ἐν πολλαῖς ἄλλαις καὶ τὰ τελευταῖα ἐν Συρακούσαις οἱ γεωμόροι πρὸς τῶν πελατῶν ἐξηλάθησαν. εἰ δ´ ἐπ´ ἐκείνων ἀγανακτήσαντες ἐναντιώσεσθε τοῖς αἰτήμασι, τί δή ποτ´ οὐκ αὐτόθεν ἄρχεσθε ἐλεύθερα φρονήματα ἔχειν; κρεῖττον γὰρ ἀπ´ ἐλάττονος αἰτίας ὁρμηθέντας πρὶν {ἢ} βλαβῆναί τι ἀποδείξασθαι τὸ γενναῖον, ἢ πολλὰ ὑπομείναντας τότε ἀγανακτεῖν περὶ τῶν γεγονότων καὶ μὴ ἐπιτρέπειν τὰ λοιπὰ καὶ ὀψὲ ἄρξασθαι νοῦν ἔχειν. φοβείτω δ´ ὑμῶν μηδένα μήτε ὁ τῶν ἀποστατῶν ἀνασεισμὸς μήτε ὁ τῶν ἀλλοφύλων πόλεμος· μήτε καταγινώσκετε τῆς οἰκείας δυνάμεως ὡς οὐχ ἱκανῆς οὔσης διασῶσαι τὴν πόλιν. ἡ μὲν γὰρ τῶν φυγάδων βραχεῖά ἐστιν ἰσχὺς καὶ οὔτε πολὺν ἀνθέξει χρόνον διαμένουσα, ὥσπερ νῦν, ὑπαίθριος {μένει} ὑπὸ καλύβαις ὥρᾳ ἔτους χειμερίῳ, πορίζεσθαι δὲ τὰ ἐπιτήδεια οὐχ ὅπως δι´ ἁρπαγῆς ἔτι δυνησομένη ἐπειδὰν τὰ ὄντα ἀναλώσῃ, ἀλλ´ οὐδ´ ἂν ἄλλοθεν ὠνητὰ ἐπεισάγεσθαι διὰ πενίαν, οἷς οὔτε ἰδίᾳ οὔτ´ ἐν κοινῷ χρήματά ἐστιν· οἱ δὲ πόλεμοι ταῖς περιουσίαις τῶν χρημάτων ὡς τὰ πολλὰ ἀντέχουσιν· ἀναρχία τ´ αὐτοῖς ὡς εἰκὸς καὶ στάσις ἐκ τῆς ἀναρχίας ἐμπεσοῦσα ταχὺ διαχεῖ {καὶ διαλύσει} τὰ βουλεύματα. οὐ γὰρ δὴ ἀξιώσουσιν οὔτε Σαβίνοις οὔτε Τυρρηνοῖς οὔτ´ ἄλλοις τισὶ τῶν ἀλλοφύλων παραδόντες σφᾶς αὐτούς, ἐκείνοις δουλεύειν, ὧν καὶ αὐτοί ποτ´ ἀφείλοντο τὴν ἐλευθερίαν σὺν ὑμῖν, καὶ μάλιστα οὐδὲ πιστευθήσονται πρὸς αὐτῶν οἱ κακῶς αὑτῶν τὴν πατρίδα καὶ αἰσχρῶς ἀπολέσαι προθυμηθέντες, μὴ οὐχὶ ὅμοια δράσειν τὴν ὑποδεξαμένην. ἀριστοκρατεῖται δὲ καὶ τὰ ἔθνη τὰ πέριξ ἡμῶν ἅπαντα, καὶ τὸ δημοτικὸν ἐν οὐδεμιᾷ πόλει μεταποιεῖται τῶν ἴσων, ὥστε οὐ δήπου οἱ προὔχοντες ἐν ἑκάστῃ πόλει τὸν οἰκεῖον οὐκ ἐῶντες παρακινεῖν ὄχλον, τοῦτον εἰσδέξονται τὸν ἔπηλυν καὶ στασιαστὴν εἰς τὴν ἑαυτῶν πατρίδα, μὴ μεταδόντες αὐτοὶ τῶν ὁμοίων σὺν χρόνῳ στερήσονται τῶν ἴσων. εἰ δ´ ἄρα γε γνώμης ἁμάρτοιμι καὶ παραδέξαιτό τις αὐτοὺς πόλις, ἐνταῦθα δὴ διαγινώσκοινθ´ ὡς ἂν πολέμιοί τε ὄντες καὶ τὰ πολεμίων πεισόμενοι. ἔχομεν δ´ αὐτῶν ὅμηρα πατέρας καὶ γαμετὰς καὶ τὴν ἄλλην συγγένειαν, ὧν οὐδ´ ἂν εὐχόμενοι κρείττονα παρὰ θεῶν αἰτησαίμεθα· οὓς ἐν ὄψει τῶν συγγενῶν στήσαντες ἀπολοῦμεν, εἰ τολμήσαιεν ὁμόσε χωρεῖν, ὡς ταῖς ἐσχάταις λώβαις διαχρησόμενοι. καὶ αὐτούς, εἰ τοῦτο μάθοιεν, εὖ ἴστε, ὅτι λήψεσθε ἀντιβολοῦντας, ὀλοφυρομένους, παραδιδόντας σφᾶς αὐτοὺς ἡμῖν δίχα τῶν ὅπλων, ἅπαντα ὑπομένοντας. δειναὶ γὰρ αἱ τοιαίδε ἀνάγκαι {καὶ} πάντας τοὺς αὐθάδεις λογισμοὺς κλάσαι καὶ καταβαλεῖν εἰς τὸ μηδέν.

Traduction française :

[6,62] "But in this matter Menenius, a prudent man who imputes good intentions to others judging them by himself, is very much mistaken. For they will urge you with an importunity grievous beyond all measure, encouraged both by arrogance, which tends always to accompany victory, and by folly, (p41) of which the multitude has so great a share. And if not at first, then certainly later, upon every occasion when their demands are not granted, they will take up arms and attack you violently in the same way as before. So that if you yield to their first demands as a matter of expediency, you will presently have something worse imposed upon you, and then something else still harsher than that, upon the supposition that your first concessions too flowed from fear, till at last they drive you out of the city, as has happened in many other places, and, most recently, at Syracuse, where the landowners were expelled by their clients. If, then, in your indignation in those circumstances you intend to oppose their demands, why do you not from this instant begin to assume the spirit of free men? For it is better the display your proud spirit on a slighter provocation to start with and before suffering any injury, than, after submitting to many injuries, than, after submitting to many injuries, to be indignant only then at what had happened, refuse to endure any more, and begin too late to be prudent. Let none of you be terrified either by the threatening clamour of the seceders or by this foreign war; and do not disparage our domestic forces as being insufficient to preserve the commonwealth. For the strength of the fugitives is slight, and they will not be able to hold out long in the open in huts during the winter season, as they are now doing; and far from being able to go on securing provisions by plundering when they have consumed their present store, they will not be able even to purchase any elsewhere and convey them to their camp, by reason of their poverty, since they have no money, either individually or in common, and wars, (p43) as a rule, can only be kept up by plenty of money. Besides, anarchy, in all probability, and sedition, growing out of anarchy, will seize them and soon confound and bring to naught their counsels. For surely they will not consent to deliver themselves up to either the Sabines or the Tyrrhenians or any other foreigners and become slaves to those whom they themselves together with you once deprived of their liberty; and, most important of all, men who have wickedly and shamefully endeavoured to destroy their own country will not even be trusted by these other nations, for fear they might treat the country that receives them in the same manner. For all the nations round us are governed by aristocracies, and the plebeians in no state lay claim to an equal share in the government; so that the leading men in every state, who do not permit their own populace to make any innovations, will doubtless never receive this foreign and seditious multitude into their country, lest, by permitting them to enjoy equal rights and privileges, they themselves should one day be deprived of their own position of equality. But if I am mistaken after all, and any state should receive them, they would thereupon reveal themselves as enemies and men deserving to be treated as such. We have, as hostages for them, their parents, their wives, and the rest of their relations, and better hostages we could not ask of the gods in our prayers; let us place these in the sight of their relations, threatening, in case they dare to attack (p45) us, to put them to death under the most ignominious tortures. And once they understand this, be assured you will find them resorting to entreaties and lamentations, and delivering themselves up to you unarmed, and ready to submit to anything whatever. For such natural ties have remarkable power to upset all arrogant calculations and bring them to naught.





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Dernière mise à jour : 9/01/2007